Smart experiments with time and space

by Anna Ângstrøm

Review of every now and then, Weld, 15 September 2010, Stockholm.

Weld’s cellar walls are clad in black drapes before the première of Every now and then. This framework speaks of dramatic theatre but light on the audience’s seats encourages us to flick through the newly-printed book that belongs to this performance. It turns out to be a picture script, a series of photographs that, with a few exceptions, mirrors what is happening on thestage. Or, is it the performance which steps out of the book to spring into its own life? Not strange, then, that one begins to think about the chicken and the egg. The Norwegian stage artist, Mette Edvardsen, who has been involved in a long row of international performance works, twists and turns our perceptions of time and space in a smart concept which adds layer upon layer but is at the same time shamelessly simple.
She makes an entrance – then takes her leave. Afterwards, the dancer, Philippe Beloul, does the same thing. Then they are both there. It is almost like a bedroom farce but as silent theatre with expressionless faces.

With the book in your lap, you can fast-forward or skip in the action at your own whim while at the same time you remain part of the collective experience of the audience. The sound effects add a further room, an outside world with birds and aeroplanes. But invisible actions also occur (documented in the book) such as when a roll of tape is turned into a big ball with accompanying swishing in the wings. The result is an absolutely material object which Beloul then throws out into the audience.
The performers also experiment with perspective: a large plant and a chair become small at a distance – in the shape of miniature copies. This idea is not as clear in the pictures in the book. Time and space are compressed, drawn out and turned into their opposites. Beloul stages the picture of his having stumbled by carefully placing all the things he is carrying around the floor and then going over end. A fake which looks real.

These discoveries can hardly be called revolutionary, but the whole idea is so well executed and absurdly weird in its organised form that one willingly ends up with one’s nose in the book and one’s eyes on the stage wondering: Which experience is the most real; what freedom do I have to create my own story? Yet again Weld succeeds in getting introspective experiments to be fun and entertaining.

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet, 17. September 2010. Translated from Swedish by Neil Howard.